John Brown Family of Dry Fork, Butler County, OH
Ireland ~ Mifflin County, PA ~ Butler County OH


By James Brown - July 26, 1999

It is suggested that the ancestors of Michael Brown were lowland Scots, possibly the poor end of the MacMillan clan. It is quite likely they migrated to the Ulster area of Ireland in the early sixteen hundreds. The history books refer to these Lowland Scots as Ulster Scots. They were predomonately protestants. After King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England he became intent on establishing a presence in the Ulster region of Ireland. In 1609 and 1610 he issued grants of land to sixty-one Scots. Among those listed was a John Brown of Georgiemill: Carrodonan 1,000 acres Tullyhunco barony, Cavan. It is not known if he is an early ancestor of ours. This information was obtained from the book by Percevil-Maxwell titled The Scottish Migration to Ulster in the Reign of James I.

Information taken from book "Juniata Valley" writted by Jones - Chapter II, page 37: In about l74l, the first determined attempt to settle the valley took place. These people were nearly all Scotch-Irish, a hardy race of devout Christians whose ancestors had been persecuted in the north of Scotland, by Charles I, and driven to the north of Ireland, and who, fearful of the provisions of the Schism Bill, in their turn fled from Ireland to America between the years l7l4-l774.

The first of them located near or about the line between Maryland and Pennsylvania. They were -exempted from paying rents by a l720 ordinance because of their being frontier-men forming a defense of the colony. >From the counties of Chester and Lancaster these settlers gradually worked their way West to the Kittochtinny Valley and then on to the Juaniata Valley. Others sailed directly up the Delaware River and disenbarked at the ports of Philadelphia and Chester Penn. and New Castle Delaware.

It is recorded in the family bible of Clark Brown that Michael Brown first saw the light of day in Tipperary County, Ireland. This information is suspect because this part of Ireland is all Catholic and the Browns were Protestants. [The Paul Teetor report on the Brown's suggests that Michael might have been born in County Limerick Ireland and later settled in Susquehanna Co. PA.] Sometime in the l600's or early 1700's Michael and his father and possibly other family members set sail for America and probably landed at Perth Amboy, N. J. and then journeyed up the Raritan River to Monmouth, N. J. and settled there.

It is assumed that Michael stayed in this area or in eastern Pennsylvania until his death, which was reported to have been in 1754. During this period he presumably married and later this marriage produced a son, John Brown, Sr.; reportably born in 1721.

John Brown, Sr. grew to maturity and married Isabell around l742. This marriage produced nine children. Sometime between l765 and l767, John Brown moved his family to Mifflin County, PA. and settled near Lewistown on the banks of the Juniata River.

According to the History of Mifflin County, the area was unsettled in 1750. In the period of 1750-1754 some settlers did try to establish roots in the area, but were later forced to leave by the militia. In 1754, the land was purchased from the Indians by William Penn. In 1755, Scotch-Irish settlers established a settlement called Pokeytown (Lewistown) on the Juniata River. They were forced out by the French & Indians, but returned again in 1760 only to be forced out by the Indians in 1763. Finally in 1765, they returned to stay.

In Derry Township's first assessment in 1768, it showed both John Brown, Sr. and John Brown, Jr. having land valued at l00 pounds. In 1782, Wayne Township broke off from Derry Township and later became part of Oliver Township.

A warranty deed map of Oliver Township shows that John Brown, Sr., obtained a parcel of land consisting of 301.9 acres on March 31, 1769. It also shows John Brown, Jr. obtaining three parcels of land totaling about 155 acres in 1793 and 1794.

From the People of Mifflin County, PA. 1755--, it shows John Sr., and Jr. served in the Fifth battalion of the Cumberland County Militia 1777-1779, and the Eighth Battalion from 1780-1782.

It was here in Oliver Township that John Sr. raised his family and continued farming until his death in 1794. Three days before his death he made out a will disposing of his assets. Later this will was contested and ruled invalid due to his mental state at the time it was signed. A copy of this will has been obtained along with other documents supporting his mental condition at time of signing.

In researching the Samuel Brown branch (Grandson) an article on O.P.Brown son of Samuel at the Rockville, IN library, suggested that John Brown was born in Ireland. This is quite possible since we have been unable to find John's birth place.

According to real estate records in Lewistown, PA., John Jr. sold his land in Oliver Township in May of 1809. Later in this same year John and his family traveled overland to Pittsburgh and then by flatboat down the Ohio River and thence up the great Miami River to where Dry Fork Creek enters the river in the Township of Ross, Butler County, Ohio.

The old family Bible said the party consisted of nine people and thirteen dogs. According to research, there were thirteen people of this Brown family that settled in Butler County about this time. Either these figures are reversed or some of John's children and their spouses could have come overland or at a later date . Another story mentions that they carried $900 in gold and a pack of 15 vicious dogs for protection. The following people were known to have come from PA. to Butler County, Ohio.

            John Brown, Jr. & wife Marry Patton
            Joseph Brown & wife Leah Wakefield - children John & Jesse
            John Brown III & wife Dorcas Buchanan
            Samuel Brown & wife Mary Herron
            Rachael Brown
            Nelson Brown
            Matthew Brown

In notes made by Elmer Brown in 1957, he cites the following information given to Lucinda Brown Stalcup by her uncle Robert Buchanan Brown. He said that John Brown III married Dorcas Buchanan in 1809 and a few weeks later left Pennsylvania by covered wagon for Butler Co. , Ohio. He said that Dorcas had a saddle horse and would ride ahead to one of their stopping places and bake bread enough to last a week. When they caught up with her, she would go ahead to the next stop. The distance was over 400 miles with no roads, just trails through the woods.

It is unlikely that John & Dorcas made this journey alone. It is likely that one of John's brothers, probably Samuel and his wife Mary, accompanied them. If this were true, then the reference in the Clark Brown bible of nine people making the trip down the river would be the correct number.

The Brown family acquired land in the Shandon and Venice area of Butler Co. and remained in this area for several generations. The exception was Samuel who with his family moved in 1824 to Reserve Township in Parke County, Indiana.

While in PA., John Brown Jr. served in the Fifth Battalion of the Cumberland County Militia 1777-1779, and the Eighth Battalion from 1780-1782.

During the next 20+ years he obtained and farmed several parcels of land in the area. He passed away sometime in 1831, the exact date and location of his grave is not available; however, a copy of his will and probate packet is available at the Butler County Courthouse, Hamilton, OH..

On a visit to the Venice cemetery in late September 1998, the caretaker Gene, was of the opinion that there might be up to three additional unmarked graves next to John's wife, Mary. Next spring, when the ground is soft, he will see if this is true.

All of the sons of John Brown, Jr. established roots in Butler County and raised families there. The lone exception was Samuel, who in 1824 moved his family to Parke County, IN. where he farmed until his death.

It is with deep appreciation that I acknowledge the valuable assistance of the following in preparing this report:

                               Mifflin County Historical Society,  Mifflin County, PA.
                               The late Paul Teetor of New York
                               The late Dr. Earle Brown of Kansas
                               The late Elmer Brown of Kansas
                               Mary Brown Courter of Houston, TX.